Halloween occurred on Wednesday, marking the final day of the month of October. And the sight of children trick-or-treating may have been the best thing for TCU football since defeating Iowa State, 17-14, on Sept. 29.
Finally, the Horned Frogs could get ready to move on from a 31-day stretch that quickly turned into a house of horrors — a worst nightmare full of tricks and no treats, at that.
October 2018 was anything but pleasant for TCU football. In fact, it was horrific. It was a month that will, hopefully, never be looked back upon fondly for the coaches, players and the Horned Frog faithful anytime soon. It was a rotten month on multiple levels — one that just about everyone in Fort Worth would like to send through the paper shredder a couple of times, just to be certain that no records of it exist.
Sure, TCU would have preferred to be 5-0 opposed to 3-2 entering the month. But panic was hardly warranted on Oct. 1, with the season still young. Even less so coming off the Frogs’ bye to begin the month, as TCU’s pair of losses were now both against top-10 teams following Texas’ 48-45 victory over Oklahoma on Oct. 6.
Then came the Thursday night loss vs. Texas Tech in front of a packed house at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Then came Oklahoma’s 52-27 drubbing of the Frogs — a game which finally saw Sonny Cumbie pull Shawn Robinson in favor of Michael Collins after TCU endured an early 28-7 deficit.
And yet what soon became tied as the most lopsided home loss for the Frogs in the Gary Patterson era wasn’t even the worst of what was yet to come.
Within 48 hours of that contest, wide receiver KaVontae Turpin — who had a pair of touchdowns against the Sooners — had been suspended for an arrest that occurred the day after the game. Robinson — who once seemed poised to lead TCU to big things this season following a 300-yard passing performance vs. Ohio State — had been ruled out for the season amid an announcement that he would undergo surgery.
24 hours after that double-dose of bad news, TCU’s all-time leader in special teams touchdowns had been dismissed from the program amid revelations of a second domestic violence arrest that occurred during the university’s spring break in March, but was never brought to light. And how much TCU knew all along? That only opened up another can of worms.
Could what was already a severe case of “spooktober” be capped off with a unthinkable, dreadful and flat out humiliating loss to Kansas, who hadn’t won a football game in October since 2009? Sure enough, the turnover-prone Frogs found a way — culminating with a late-game fumble that resulted from running back Darius Anderson running into his own man.
Here's the butt fumble in TCU-Kansas. Wow. pic.twitter.com/6YjxewAKbm— Max Olson (@max_olson) October 27, 2018
It wasn’t any bad dream. This is reality. For the first time in the Patterson era, TCU did not win any of its games in the month of October. The Frogs are 3-5, 1-4 in Big 12 play, and behind the Jayhawks in the standings (in football) when factoring in the head-to-head. A bowl game appearance — once a given — will require three wins in a span of four games, including either a win at No. 13 West Virginia or at Baylor a week later if perhaps not both. Anything less, and everyone’s plans will be freed up this Christmastime.
I said TCU may be in a heap of trouble after the Frogs allowed a mere 17 points to the Red Raiders and yet still couldn’t come away with a victory. Sure enough, they are — though a lot of unforeseen variables in the time since then have only amplified that truth. But there are other marks that cannot be overlooked, including a minus-12 turnover margin that is tied with Rutgers as the worst among all Power 5 teams.
October was wild, bad, shocking — whatever adjective you want to call it. And the Frogs were unable to play the role of Ghostbusters as the miscues, losses and other hurdles continued to haunt them from start to end.
For the better or the worse (the October record books for this year certainly aren’t pretty), that’s now all in the past.
So as the calendars flip to November today, a new opportunity is present for TCU. A blank slate. A season within a season, as Gary Patterson sometimes likes to call it, if you will.
So what can be achieved? Well, you asked a great question, even if the answer is uncertain.
Win all four games this month, and the Horned Frogs will be walking away with a winning record in 2018 — something that is justifiably a tad bit difficult to envision of late. Win in Morgantown on Nov. 10, and TCU will at least have one ranked win to celebrate this fall, while perhaps even playing spoiler to West Virginia’s slim but still realistic odds of cracking the College Football Playoff. Get some momentum going, and hey, maybe it will just carry over into 2019.
Of course, all of that remains hypothetical for the time being. Should TCU fail to defeat Kansas State Saturday afternoon, the Frogs will be staring at their first 4-game losing streak since 2013 and will need to win three straight — two on the road — just to make a bowl game. Considering the Wildcats are last in scoring and last in passing yards in the Big 12 this season, TCU has to like its chances. But then again, the road team has won each of the past three meetings in the battle of Gary Patterson vs. Bill Snyder.
Predictions? Don’t rely on them at this rate. Injuries have mounted for the Frogs as the season has progressed. One day the sun is shining, and the next day the sky seems to be falling. It’s just been one of those seasons for a young TCU team, and any shot at forecasting what’s to come in stretch run might just make all of us look like a bunch of fools.
Never mind all of that though. A new month is here. And it’s bound to receive a warm welcome. All the Frogs can do is reset, and somehow, get that “win by one point.” Oh, and did I mention that No. 20 TCU basketball tips off in just six days?
Goodbye, October. Hello, November.